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Health & Fit How to Tell If You Might Have One of the 3 Types of Sleep Apnea

09:30  06 november  2021
09:30  06 november  2021 Source:   self.com

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Ever suddenly wake up gasping in the night? If so, it’s possible you have a pretty common sleep disorder called sleep apnea. We’ll get into the types of sleep apnea in a bit, but the quick synopsis is that this is a sleep disorder where your breathing stops and starts throughout the night. Doesn’t sound very good, right? Well, this is one disorder you definitely want to get looked at if you suspect you may have it. While sleep apnea is very common and can range in severity1, it often goes undiagnosed and can lead to negative health outcomes when left untreated. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of sleep apnea.

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What is sleep apnea? | Obstructive sleep apnea | Obstructive sleep apnea treatment | Central sleep apnea | Central sleep apnea treatment | Mixed sleep apnea | Mixed sleep apnea treatment | Diagnosis

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which someone’s breathing repeatedly stops throughout the night, with these pauses in breathing occuring at least five times each hour1.

​​“There are several reasons this happens, but by far the most common is when you are trying to breathe but cannot because your airway collapses—we call this obstructive sleep apnea,” Steven Holfinger, M.D., who is a sleep medicine physician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea, but the disorder can present in other forms as well, such as central sleep apnea and mixed sleep apnea. These also lead you to stop breathing while sleeping, but we’ll get more into the specifics of each in a bit.

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If left untreated, sleep apnea can interfere with sleep and lead to cardiovascular disease and other heart issues, high blood pressure, reduced oxygen flow to vital organs, and other serious complications, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Keep reading to learn more about the different types of sleep apnea.

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What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, occurs when the upper airway repeatedly becomes completely or partially collapsed or obstructed during sleep, according to the Cleveland Clinic. During one of these episodes, the diaphragm and chest muscles have to work harder to open the airway, and breathing usually begins again with the presence of a loud gasp or jerk of the body. Some people also experience oxygen desaturation, which is when the percentage of oxygen in the blood drops lower than it should.

“Basically, it’s where you have a reduction in breathing or flow and it leads to a change in your oxygen, and with that change in your oxygen levels, it can cause you to have an arousal,” Kendra Becker, M.D., who is a pulmonologist and sleep medicine doctor at Kaiser Permanente, tells SELF. “The brain does not like the sensation of a change in oxygen, so it will immediately cause an arousal, where you have a gasp or a choke sound so you can open your airways, so that your oxygen levels will go back to normal.”

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We don’t know exactly how many people live with obstructive sleep apnea, but research shows that it may be around 20% or more of adults2. And the prevalence seems to be increasing over time. OSA is even more common among people with specific sleep apnea risk factors, including obesity, family history of OSA, high blood pressure, chronic nasal congestion, diabetes, smoking, asthma, and narrowed airways. Taking certain medications and drinking alcohol can also lead to OSA. Obstructive sleep apnea is also more common in men than women, and is more common among women after menopause than before menopause, according to the Mayo Clinic.

According to the Mayo Clinic, obstructive sleep apnea symptoms can include:

  • Snoring
  • Waking up gasping for air or choking
  • Waking frequently during the night
  • Periods where you stop breathing when you sleep (This would need to be observed by someone else.)
  • Feeling overly tired
  • Morning headaches
  • Having trouble concentrating throughout the day
  • Waking with a sore throat
  • Waking with a dry mouth
  • Waking up frequently to go to the bathroom

What are some obstructive sleep apnea treatment options?

When obstructive sleep apnea is treated, there’s typically a reduction in associated long-term complications like heart disease, stroke, and lung issues, Dr. Becker explains.

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CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is a very common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. This therapy involves using a machine that delivers air pressure through a sealed mask in order to keep your upper airways open while you’re sleeping, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s seen as the most effective non-invasive sleep apnea treatment, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

However, CPAP is not always well-liked—you can see how some people may not exactly enjoy sleeping with a mask on—so there can be issues with compliance. If you get claustrophobic easily, then you may want to talk to your doctor about other options.

Another treatment that’s sometimes used to treat mild cases of sleep apnea is a mandibular advancement device3, which is placed in the mouth and is designed to move the lower jaw forward, reducing the pressure the jaw places on the airway. This mainly helps with snoring.

Sometimes surgery is recommended as a sleep apnea treatment, though it’s less desirable than other options given that it’s complex, invasive, and not always effective.

What is central sleep apnea (CSA)?

You might wonder, “What’s the difference between obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea?” Central sleep apnea still involves repeated pauses in breathing during sleep but is not caused by the airway being blocked. Instead, it’s related to a complication of the central nervous system where the brain doesn’t properly signal the muscles to breathe due to some instability in the body’s respiratory control center, the Cleveland Clinic explains.

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“It’s a repetitive reduction or decrease in both your air flow and your breathing effort,” Dr. Becker tells SELF.

Central sleep apnea can arise for a number of reasons, including congestive heart failure, stroke, or even from sleeping at high altitudes or taking a heavy dose of opiates.

The central sleep apnea symptoms can be similar to those of obstructive sleep apnea. According to the Mayo Clinic, they include:

  • Waking abruptly in the night, along with shortness of breath
  • Trouble staying asleep
  • Excessive sleepiness during the day
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Snoring
  • Morning headaches
  • Mood changes
  • Observed episodes of abnormal breathing patterns or not breathing while sleeping

What are some central sleep apnea treatment options?

Central sleep apnea treatment varies, depending on why the sleep apnea is occurring. For example, if central sleep apnea is caused by congestive heart failure, it would be treated by treating the congestive heart failure, Dr. Becker tells SELF. Other treatments include supplemental oxygen, CPAP, reducing the dosage for opioid medications, or a therapy called bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP). BiPAP is a form of airway pressure therapy that delivers pressure when you breathe in and a different amount of pressure when you breathe out.

What is mixed sleep apnea?

Mixed sleep apnea is a form of sleep apnea that combines obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Sometimes one form will be more predominant than the other, meaning someone may have a bit more of the obstructive sleep apnea component or a bit more of the central sleep apnea component, Dr. Becker says.

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What are some mixed sleep apnea treatment options?

Typically, CPAP is used to treat mixed sleep apnea, because in many cases, this therapy can effectively address the presentation of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. There are rare cases where treating obstructive sleep apnea with CPAP therapy can trigger something called complex sleep apnea (also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea), physicians say. This is when someone with obstructive sleep apnea develops central sleep apnea because of the CPAP treatment. Sometimes this resolves with continued CPAP treatment, but in other cases, additional treatments are necessary10.

Here’s what you should know about a sleep apnea diagnosis.

Sleep apnea can vary in severity from one person to the next. “Sleep apnea affects everyone differently,” Dr. Holfinger says. “While some people may have severe symptoms with very few sleep apnea events, others may not be able to tell that their sleep is affected at all in the presence of severe sleep apnea.”

Research3 shows that upwards of 80% of people with obstructive sleep apnea go undiagnosed. This may be due to a lack of awareness of sleep apnea risk factors and low screening rates among people with comorbidities like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.

Doctors use a bunch of different assessments to screen for and diagnose sleep apnea. These can include a sleep history that looks at your typical sleep patterns and habits, symptoms, a physical exam, and a polysomnogram, which is a sleep study that can take place at home or in a sleep center to collect data on measures like air flow, carbon dioxide levels, oxygen levels, eye movement, and heart rate. These measures help your doctor understand whether or not you have sleep apnea, and what type of sleep apnea you have.

These days, home sleep studies are becoming more and more common, allowing people to undergo this testing from the convenience and comfort of their own home, Dr. Becker tells SELF. If you suspect you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, it’s important to see a doctor, because sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment are important in preventing future complications. Getting treatment can not only help you feel better, but it can also help you be proactive in caring for your overall health.

Sources:

1. Nature and Science of Sleep, Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Current Perspectives

2. Journal of Thoracic Disease, Obstructive Sleep Apnea Is a Common Disorder In the Population

3. Expert Review of Cardiovascular Therapy, Cardiovascular Disease Risk Reduction with Sleep Apnea Treatment

4. Chinese Medical Journal, Treatment-Emergent Central Sleep Apnea: A Unique Sleep-Disordered Breathing

Related:

  • Why Do I Wake Up With a Headache Every Morning?
  • How Many Times Is It Normal to Wake Up at Night?
  • 7 Reasons You Might Wake Up Gasping for Air

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The tossing and turning might be signaling a deeper problem.From time to time, it’s common to struggle to fall asleep, battle frequent wake-ups throughout the night, or notice your mind starts running far too early in the morning. In fact, insomnia is the most common sleep complaint, affecting over one in three adults at any time, per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

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